"The trees are our lungs, the rivers our circulation, the air our breath, and the earth our body."
Across the globe, forests are lost every minute. From the paper we write on to the air we breathe, there's a lot at stake when we ignore the destruction of our trees.
What is Deforestation?
Deforestation is the cutting and clearing of rainforest or any other related ecosystem. This process turns thriving lands into a less biodiverse ecosystem, such as, plantations, cropland, and pasture for cattle. Major causes of deforestation are logging, oil and gas extraction, farming, cattle ranching, and mining.
Effects of Deforestation
One of the effects of deforestation is the loss of habitat for the plant and animal species. Seventy percent of the planet's animals and plants are found in forests, and most of them will not survive deforestation. Loss of rainforests also lead to the loss of topsoil, which is vital if we ever want to replant the devastated areas.
Deforestation directly affects everyone (even city dwellers) because the massive loss of forests leads to higher greenhouse emissions. Think of our rainforests as the planet's lungs. Plants breathe in carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) and release oxygen (something mildly important to human life). At present, around 20% of the planet's oxygen comes from the South American rainforests. It is estimated that HALF of the world's tropical forests are already gone and we continue to lose 18 million acres of forest every year! No forests means nothing to naturally reabsorb greenhouse gases... you do the math.
Trees and plants also help control the water cycle by balancing the amount of water in the atmosphere, affecting the agriculture industry on a global scale. This messes with the livelihoods of close to 40% of the global labor force (and spikes the cost of your avocado toast, just saying).
In addition to water cycle balance, trees also maintain topsoil and prevent erosion. Without their help, the soil erodes and washes away. The barren land that is left after deforestation has a higher risk of flooding, especially in coastal areas.
So How Can I Help?
Before you go chain yourself to a tree or begin planting a mini forest garden in your backyard, let's start with the little things. You can reduce your consumption of things like plastic, packaging, and even red meat to divest from the market forces behind deforestation. You can purchase items that are certified by the Rainforest Alliance or locally farmed and produced. Your actions have the power to demonstrate what you stand for, so what do you say? Are you in?